Friday, December 17
The Fellowship's track record shows that it "quietly effects political change," according to an article in the Los Angeles Times, and acts with the blessing of many in power.
It seems like tinfoil-hattery of the worst kind, but the story is unfortunately true. And not only is the Family tentacling all over Congress, the Norwegian Prime Minister is also involved.
I want to make it absolutely clear for anyone with less than half a brain cell that I am not this Republic of Palau.
Neither do my posts represent Paulauan government policy in any way, shape or form. I have no connection whasover with the nation, other than being of the opinion that it has lovely beaches and the name is memorable. Look at this utter beauteousness, for example:
and tell me you don't agree. It's an honour to have nicked the name of such a gorgeous place, if identity appropriation can ever be characterised as honourable. I'd like to say just one thing to the people and government of Palau - Ke kmal mesaul.
Belated Happy Hannukah
Hanukkah, wie er in die Welt kam
"An then the Big Bad Antiochus Epiphanes came up to the SEVENTH little Maccabee's house, which was made a straw, an he said 'I'm gonna huff an I'm gonna puff an I'm gonna forcably impose my cultural an religious norms on your house down!"
"Why didn't the little Maccabee just shoot im?" says Giblets.
"Cause he didn't have the magic candles," says me. "The EIGHTH little Maccabee had those an he lived in a house made a cheese but now you're rushin the story."
"This history lesson sounds suspiciously stupid!" says Giblets. "An besides why didn't you tell us about this yesterday while it was still Hanukkah?"
"Because Hanukkah is not a time for rememberin the history of stuff," says me. "It's a time for celebratin the delightfully expressive ambience of stuff! It is the feeeeestival of lights! Woooooo lights."
"It is the festival of lame!" says Giblets. "Enough of dreidels an chocolate coins an new socks! When does Giblets get to make a golem!"
"I dunno Giblets that's really more of a Passover thing," says me.
"Giblets needs his golem," says Giblets. "Giblets needs his earth-wrought unstoppable engine of destruction now!"
"Okay," says me. "But you have to play nice with it."
For those of you playin at home here's how YOU can make a golem! First make a big thing outta clay an earth which is but a shadow of the true glory that is divine creation. Then write the hidden name of God on its forehead an pronounce the secret invocation:
I had a little golem, I made it out of clay
And when it's dried and ready, Prague armies it will slay.
Golem, golem, golem, I made you out of clay.
Golem, golem, golem, with golem I will play.
¶ posted by Fafnir at 10:23 AM
I'll be putting this in a links section shortly, but I just wanted to remind people what an excellent resource Red Star Research is for anyone with an interest in the corruption of New Labour, Tony Blair and his friends. Go, look, be disgusted, do something about it, even if it's only blogging. All political engagement is good, in my opinion.
Blair Defies Law Lords
It appears that the new Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, is going to defy the Lords. I have just heard, with mounting incredulity, Jack Straw say on Radio 4 that although he "...respects the House of Lords' right to make the decision", that actually the Court of Appeal found in the government's favour, so they must be right not to act to free the detainees. Apparently, according to Straw, the government's first duty is no longer to uphold the rule of law and democracy, but to protect the country from terrorism. Who decided that then?
There is no way he was briefed to say this to the media without Prime Ministerial and Cabinet approval.
Jack Straw is a barrister. He knows exactly how the law works and he knows how precedent works. A House of Lords decision overrules everything but the European courts. The House of Lords is the supreme court of the land. It met in full session to make this decision.It cannot be overruled by the executive. What part of that can a lawyer not understand? The Government is obliged to implement the court's decision: the balance of judicial, executive and legislature requires it. Parliament passes the law, the executive implements it, and the judiciary rules on the legality of the substance and the application of that law. That's the way our constitution works, and the government knows this. Blair, as a barrister himself, knows this well. It's Constitutional Law 101.
This makes the threat by New Labour to face down the House of Lords that much more arrogant and potentially dangerous. This is not about a few activist judges, as Blunkett would've had it: this about the Labour Party controlled executive and a serving Prime Minister refusing to obey lawful authority. If a serving government and ministers refuse to obey the law, where does that put the rest of us?
We have an unwritten constitution in England (with which concept I disagree; I think we should have a Bill of Rights, but that's not relevant here just now) which relies on consensus and agreed convention to continue, and it has done so on that basis for a thousand years. The continued existence of the unwritten consitution rests on a delicate balance of powers, and the tacit understanding that no elected government will act in an irrational or illegal way so as to unbalance those powers. Should a government do so, the courts are there to correct the imbalance.
And here Blair is, deliberately wrecking that balance, by attacking the decision of the supreme court that Parliament and the Executive acted unlawfully. Oh, but it's not Tony saying it, is it? He's sent his apparatchiks. Hasn't even got the guts to defy our constitution himself, the backstabbing coward.
I know I'm banging a drum here, but Blair is blinded by hubris totally if he thinks he''s going to take on the judiciary and the constitution as well as the BBC and Civil Service. They've already done for Blunkett because of his illiberality and incipient fascism, and they'll do for Blair too. Blair has been spending way to much time with Bush and Berlusconi, who both see it as their divine right as Presidents to be supreme leader and ride roughshod over all consitutional protections. Their respective legislatures have colluded with them in this, but if Blair thinks ours will do the same he should think again.
If Blair thought the Blunkett affair was messy and embarassing, has he got a treat in store for him when the actual powers in the country (as opposed to the temporary place-holders of New Labour) decide to act against him. But first lets see him have the guts to make a public statement instead of sending his proxies to do his dirty work.
Geoff Hoon Is a Backstabbing Coward
You have to admire Annabel Ewing MP of the SNP. It went mostly unnoticed in all the activity yesterday, but in the debate around the amalgamation of Scots army regiments, she had the guts to stand up in Parliament and call Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon a ''backstabbing coward''. Hoon had blamed the abolition of historic regiments on the Army leadership, when it was actually politically led from No 10 and the Treasury, following the US policy of the privatisation of core miltary services. Soldiers are being made redundant in action.
Ewing refused to withdraw her comment despite much pressure from the Speaker, and was eventually obliged to leave the House. Good for her: Hoon is a backstabbing coward, it's just a shame it was said about just this issue when there have been so many other occasions upon which it would've been appropriate to say this under parliamentary privilege.
Thursday, December 16
Wow, Just ... Wow.
What a fantastic piece of engineering and a work of art. I am in awe.
The Millau Viaduct, designed by the English architect Lord Norman Foster, crosses the cloud-covered valley of the river Tarn in Millau, France (JEAN-PHILIPPE ARLES/MAXPPP)
Just a little reminder
In case we are in any danger of forgetting in the run-up to the season of peace on earth and goodwill to all humans, here's a reminder of how Bush and his maladministration have actively espoused the idea of using nuclear weapons in an offensive first strike...
Combined with the stated doctrine of pre-emption, it makes the recent sabre-rattling against Iran and Syria all the more worrying. Oh, how I wish they'd just get the damned Rapture over with.
BBC and Bhopal
Both Jeanne at Body & Soul and Avedon Carol at The Sideshow think that the BBC may not have been fooled by the fake admittance of responsibility for Bhopal last weekend.
Post-Hutton and Thompson, I wouldn't be at all surprised.
Thursday Food Blogging
Today it is raining, in that particularly grim, grey Northern European way that has driven so many to utter wintry suicidality. Time to stay indoors, put the heating on, close the curtains and blog. Unfortunately we also have to eat.
Having just looked at the empty tundra-like waste that is our fridge, I'm forced to the conclusion that I either make something out of nothing, go to the shops on my bike and get drenched, or we go for takeout. As I still have a temperature and a dull headache (though not half as bad as earlier this week) going out in the rain does not appeal. Neither does eating takeout, which in this neighbourhood is either kebabs, Dutchified, ie bland, Thai food with mystery meat, or undentifiable body parts from the chipshop like pig noses, breadcrumbed and deepfried, met sla.
So, it looks I'll be doing my parlour trick of making something out of nothing, or as close as an enthusiastic cook would consider to nothing. I have brought up 2 children to adulthood on one income so I'm pretty damned good at making something out of nothing. We may not have much in the way of meat or veg, but we do have eggs, some nice belegen (ripe) Gouda cheese, sour cream, onions and salad, and plenty of pasta, flour and butter. So tonight we will be having an old Devon favourite, Homity pie.
WASHINGTON, Dec. 12 - The Pentagon is engaged in bitter, high-level debate over how far it can and should go in managing or manipulating information to influence opinion abroad, senior Defense Department civilians and military officers say.
Er...what credibility is that then? Did I blink and miss it?
Blunkett Gone- Better late Than Never
I didn't post much yesterday as I was busy, devouring the Christmas issue of Private Eye and obsessively following the downfall of David Blunkett. Lord, I'm glad he's gone, but if I hear one more person praise his integrity I'll scream.
For fuck's sake, he's a Labour politician. That tells you all you need to know about his supposed 'integrity' right there. You don't get to be Home Secretary in a New Labour administration without being devious, mendacious and venal. You have to be ambitious, greedy and be prepared to knife colleagues in the back whenever necessary. And I haven't actually started on his policies...
Leaving policy aside, this is a man who was having a blatant torrid affair, under the nose of all London's media and political establishment, with a social-climbing married woman. Blunkett appeared to have absolutely no concern for the negative public perception of his office that this caused. He used that office to do his mistress favours at the taxpayer's expense, and talked his civil servants into colluding. When it all went wrong he tried to drag a heavily pregnant woman through the courts and media out of some misguided hope that her child is his and he can force her, publically, to his will, despite the fact that her husband is adamant the child is his and the law also presumes this. No acting Home Secretary, in charge of the machinery of justice, has ever used the courts for such a highly personal and inflammatory purpose while in office. But, but... Blunkett has the utmost personal honesty and integrity! He told us so himself! Huh. Protestations of honesty, like patriotism, are the least refuge of the scoundrel.
He then compounds all of this by not only being loose-lipped about his affairs in the media, but also by openly insulting his cabinet colleagues in his biography. That kind of behaviour is either immoral, incompetent or insane, depending on your point of view. However you look at it, these are not qualities wanted in the person in charge of national security.
In my opinion, he should've resigned the moment there was any question, no matter how tiny, about the integrity of the office of Home Secretary. Because it's not about Blunkett; it's about the offices of state and the trust that the public is able (or not) to place in those holding those positions. Home Secretaries will come and go, good, bad or indifferent; but what Blunkett has done is to politicise and corrupt the post to such a degree that no-one will ever have any trust in it again.
And yet Mr T Blair continues to bleat on about Blunkett's integrity. Apparently Tony, the expert on integrity and honesty - where are those WMD, Mr Blair?- thinks Blunkett "...is a force for good". No, no and again no. He's a selfish, selfish man whose first loyalty is to himself and no-one else. Everything he has done has been about how he himself feels; he has shown no consideration towards his duty to the country, let alone any human concern for his ex-mistress or putative child or even his existing family, and his main concern all along has been that he escape the consequences of his actions. Why else would he appear on BBC2's Newsnight last night, looking for the sympathy vote and telling the world "It was all worth it for that little lad"? He does not even know the child is is, except by some magical sixth sense, and even if it were he is merely the biological parent. How ironic if the DNA test proves the child is the husband's.
The BBC has been enjoying this a lot, and I don't blame them one bit. As I said in an earlier post, it's the Establishment that will do for New Labour, and now the Establishment has the smell of blood in its collective nostrils. The letters and emails that have come to light would never have done so without the co-operation of the civil service; the story wouldn't have had legs if Blunkett, in his hubris, hadn't continued to bombard the BBC with constant protestations of his honesty; in doing so he gave the BBC and Civil Service just the ammunition they needed. All they had to do was shoot him down, just as they did, in a much less spectacular fashion, to Blair's best buddy Charlie Falconer and his sidekick David Lamy earlier this week.
Hats off too to Private Eye and Ian Hislop, who have been reporting the whole Blunkett/Fortier/Quinn saga since the very start, when the other media weren't interested. Even in his downfall the Murdoch papers are trying to spin for Blunkett, portraying a story of corruption as a man brought low by love, but even the Sun's best efforts can't sweeten the whited sepulchre that is Blair and his government.
For once the courts have done their job. The House of Lords ruled by an eight to one majority in favour of appeals by nine detainees held without charge and without limit in Belmarsh high security prison, some of them held on evidence obtained through torture.
"The law lords said the measures were incompatible with European human rights laws. The men will stay behind bars while ministers decide how to react."
I can't tell you how happy this decision makes me. Blunkett gone, and a good court decision - can I dare to hope the tide is turning? I am sad that they won't be released, as would seem only just, but if they are released most will be immediately deported to their home nations as they are considered a danger to UK security. Should this happen it's likely some of the detainees may be assassinated.
Hmmm, indefinite detention with no charge, or deportation/assassination. Which would you choose?
Gods bless Lord Hoffman. From the Guardian:
Lord Hoffmann argued that the legislation was not justified even by the perceived terrorist threat: "This is a nation which has been tested in adversity, which has survived physical destruction and catastrophic loss of life. I do not underestimate the ability of fanatical groups of terrorists to kill and destroy, but they do not threaten the life of the nation. Whether we would survive Hitler hung in the balance, but there is no doubt that we shall survive al-Qaida".
Mr Gonzalez, are you listening?
Tuesday, December 14
Because I can't blog it enough.
Blair v BBC&TUC (tagteam)
I do think Mark Thompson made a huge tactical mistake in acquiescing to the government's wish to break up the BBC. I can't see what's happening as anything but a privatisation.
For all its metropolitan and London bias, the BBC is one of the many means, like the civil service unions, and the official Opposition, by which excessive executive power in government is restrained. Though many dislike the fact, London is where things happen politically and in the media. The publicly funded media, the unions, and the government, (meaning the machinery rather than the political power) are hopelssly interwined. They stay when the party in power changes. Civil servants are not just paperpushers: they're embassy staff, gardeners, file clerks, lawyers... the same with BBC staff. Most are not airhead 'celebrity' presenters, but word processors, bookers, sound technicians, carpenters and the like. Many local authorities and voluntary bodies also have their pay and conditions tied to those of the civil service, as do workers in the Justice system and courts.
I said back when I started this blog in 2002 that Blair's long term plan was to take on the public services and privatise them, and the BBC cuts are part of this. The GATT agreement, which we are signatories, obliges the UK to privatise public services; the general principle is that public services, like fire services, hospitals, roads, and so on, should be open to profit-making companies in preference to being provided by a democratically elected authority. There is little protection from freedom of information rules, due to "commercial confidence", and no democratic oversight whatsoever. Thus democracy slips away.
Back to the BBC. The BBC establishment is fighting back pretty hard, in my opinion. The Radio 4 news coverage has been become much more biting and the unexpected critics, like Sir Robin Butler and various judges, are now more vocal: they're filling the space where the official opposition should be. The civil service is is poised to jump into the the fray too. There are huge proposed job cuts at the overstretched Department for Work & Pensions, more temporary short-term work, low pay, and wasteful inefficient IT projects. All of these are sufficient to dissatisfy government workers.
But to think that of all things, after Iraq, after the lies, vanity, deceit and butchery - it's the world's most dull issue,civil service pensions that will do for this government. Blair, out of sheer hubris, is engaged in chopping away at the support he's standing on. Pension reform, as proposed, has the potential to cut pensions not only for lower grade staff but also those at the very top, like Cabinet officials and private secretaries to Ministers and ... Think Sir Humphrey and Bernard, lots and lots of them, and each one with a numerous complement of departmental staff. Who also have staff. Expect more damaging leaks.
When you have the entire BBC apparatus and its unions, plus civil service mandarins and the whole of the civil service unions against you, and you are a Labour Prime Minister, what Blair's doing seems utterly foolhardy. He's hacking away at the fabric of government; admittedly government can always do with a some pruning; but not in this delberate, blind confrontational way. It's a power thing, as it is always is with that little, little man. That it's simultaneously payback for the WMD story makes the BBC cuts all the sweeter for Blair, but why is it he can't see what's looming at his shoulder? The emphasis on the Blunkett saga is just the start of his agony. The Establishment, whether left or right, always has its revenge. Doubly so when you hit them in the pocket.
If it were necessary for the financial health of the country - which I doubt, as the UK is the 4th richest country in the world- to cut expenditure, how about they start here? I'm hoping for a general strike. How about March 19th? Seems somehow appropriate .
Oh, how very sad.
That bigoted little piece of middle-England, Nick Griffin, has been arrested and charged with incitement to racial hatred.
The Price of So - Called Democracy
Thanks to Kos for publishing this:
Every American should be made to look at this every single moment of the day, so that you can all see exactly what condition the policies of your stupid, inhuman, venal, incompetent President that you elected, not me, have brought your fellow-citizens and those of Iraq to.
And, just so I can't be accused of simple-minded anti-Americanism ( though actually I don't care much at this point if I am accused of it, US warcrimes have gone way past that point now), there's this from Richard Norton Taylor about the UK government using torture to gain evidence in terrorism trials.
There are days when despair seems the only option.
Monday, December 13
Grit Your Teeth And Smile, It's The Holidays...
I'm feeling somewhat under the weather today, it appears I have yet another kidney infection; that, and the difficulty of physically separating Martin from the keynoard at weeekends accounts for the lack of posting the last couple of days. Not only that, but the news has been dull.
Never mind, we did manage to put some Christmas decorations up, so at least I shall be ill in festive surroundings. I'm hoping that the fairy lights cast a warm healthy glow over my currently pasty cod-fish complexion. I can't be being ill now of all times, just before Christmas; No. 2 son will be home from university in the UK next week and No 2's best friend is arriving just before New Year, so that they can go to the European Drum & Basss awards in Den Haag. The supplementary reason for the visit(other than love for his darling Mother) is so that they can join in with the annual Amsterdam New Year's explosives festival. I realise comparisons with Baghdad would be a bit sick given the circumstances, so I'll compare Amsterdam's love of New Year's fireworks more to a mini-Beirut. I'll be glad to be out of it, it's too nosiy for me - we'll probably be in Middelburg eating oliebollen, but as my son put it, you're only 20 and in Amsterdam on New Year's Eve once, so he's going to make the most of it. Lets hope it lives up to expectations.
11/28/2004 - 12/05/2004